The Leonen conundrum

posted December 18, 2020 at 12:15 am
by  Emil Jurado
"Should he be impeached, or will a quo warranto petition serve the purpose?"

 

I find it amusing that the Department of Health warned the Filipinos not to use party horns and whistles for noise-making to greet the New Year or December 31, rather than prepare for the usual mayhem that happens every year’s celebration, my gulay!

The DOH claims that using “torotot” and whistle could easily spread the coronavirus because in both cases, people expel saliva. Obviously, the DOH is more concerned about the transmission of the virus rather than what happens every New Year when people embark on the traditional New Year ritual of using firecrackers – prohibited or otherwise.

As for President Duterte who promised to ban the use of firecrackers next year, all I can say is, Santa Banana, if he can ban the use of firecrackers, why not now? To me, it does not make sense if the President can ban the use of pyrotechnics next year and continue the yearly mayhem of people, especially the young, who are rushed to hospitals for injuries caused by pyrotechnics.

Santa Banana, even now, people who would rather waste their money and blow it up on expensive pyrotechnics are already lining up in Bocaue to buy firecrackers. They never learn!

I have been to Hong Kong and Singapore during the New Year, and believe it or not, firecrackers are already banned there. This is rather strange since the use of firecrackers is a Chinese tradition to ward off evil spirits. What the governments of both Hong Kong and Singapore do is use pyrotechnics display at chosen places for the benefit of tourists and locals.

I must say, the display is magnificent and awesome. People just go to Hong Kong and Singapore at New Year for the spectacle. If Hong Kong and Singapore whose population are Chinese can do it, why not the Philippines?

Local government units (LGUs) can do likewise, not only for tourism purposes but for the locals.

**

There is a lot of skepticism by Filipinos on the use of vaccines against COVID-19.

This skepticism arose from the controversy on the use of vaccines from Sanofi Pasteur of France’s Dengvaxia by the Noynoy Aquino government. This is supposed to be a solution to dengue, often occurring during the rainy season.

It is for this reason why President Duterte and the Inter-Agency Task Force must address this concern. There is fear on the use of COVID-19 vaccines that are forthcoming during the first quarter of 2021.

One way of addressing the concern of the people is a massive education and information program on the part of the Duterte government. Government needs to give the Filipinos assurance that something is being done about the COVID-19 pandemic at the earliest possible time.

On the possibility of having face-to-face classes of schoolchildren in many public schools as approved by the President and his cabinet, possibly in January in areas where the Covid-19 pandemic is remote, it would do well for the President not to rush in so quickly. Do not rush, Mister President, these are young schoolchildren who can be exposed so suddenly to the virus.

While the experiment may be voluntary – permission of parents is needed – there is a great danger in using young schoolchildren for experimental purposes. Malacanang must remember that these are young school children being used as experiments.

We can understand the concern of parents for the Department of Education to normalize everything, but as I said, haste makes waste.

**

There has been a lot of talk about the impeachment case against Supreme Court Associate Justice Marvic Leonen for two reasons -- one, for failing to submit his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALNs) for 15 years when he was a law professor at the University of the Philippines. This is required for all government officials and employees by the 1987 Constitution. Two, he is also accused of violating the Constitution in not resolving cases as mandated by the Constitution. As a jurist, he sat on no less than 85 cases.

The Constitution is very clear on this mandate, Santa Banana!

Insofar as the resolution of cases, all justices and all judges of the lower court are required, as provided for by Article VIII, Section 15 (1), that “all cases of matters filed after the effectivity of this constitution MUST be decided or resolved within twenty-four months from date of submission for the Supreme Court, and unless reduced by the Supreme Court, twelve months for all lower collegiate courts, and three months for all other lower courts.” (caps mine)

It is for this reason why so many judges in lower collegiate court have been dismissed for sitting on cases. Certainly, if the Constitution is applicable to members of the judiciary in lower courts, the gods of Padre Faura cannot be the exception. 

I do not like to debate with retired Supreme Court Justice Antonio Carpio on this, but I take exception to his claim in his column that insofar as Supreme Court justices are concerned, it is not mandatory.

Filing of all public officers and employees on their annual SALNs is likewise mandatory.

In Article XI on the accountability of public officers, Section 17 is also very clear that “Public officers or employees shall, upon assumption of office and as often thereafter may be required by law, submit a declaration under oath of his assets, liabilities, and net worth…”

The question now is whether Justice Leonen should be subject to “quo warranto” proceeding or impeached.

To be a subject of “quo warranto (by what right)” the offense must be committed while in office. Since Leonen’s offense was while he was a professor at the University of the Philippines, Leonen failed to submit his SALNs, then the proper remedy is to have him impeached by the House of Representatives.

Leonen will have to get his due by January 2021 when Congress will meet again after the holidays. Abangan.

Topics: Emil Jurado , Department of Health , DOH , COVID-19 vaccines , Supreme Court Associate Justice Marvic Leonen , Statement of Assets , Liabilities and Net Worth , SALNs
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